Claremont Insider: OPM

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Other People's Money

We see in today's Daily Bulletin an article by reporter Canan Tasci relating that the Cal Poly Pomona Board of Trustees will shortly consider a proposal to demolish Cal Poly's iconic CLA Building (Classroom, Laboratory, and Administration), housing student services and administrative offices and, we assume, classrooms and labs.

This is not a case of the university knocking down some old, dilapidated out-building remnant of Kellogg Ranch, this is a 200,000 square foot building built in 1993--it's only 17 years old! Plus, it has become a symbol of Cal Poly. Hence the term "iconic". By the way, 200,000 square feet is about 5 acres. The tower is 173 feet high. This is a huge building complex.

We can scarcely think of a better example of the phenomenon of OPM--Other People's Money. When public agencies are paying for things with OPM--which is all they really ever do--they just don't care.

Build a monumental building in 1993 that leaks and doesn't meet program needs? Sure, it's OPM.

Plan on tearing down the same building scarcely 20 years later and replacing it with a new $80 million dollar one? Sure, it's OPM.

All the while, be careful to shroud the issue in student safety (earthquakes in this case), energy efficiency, and LEED-sustainability-greenness. And don't worry, somebody else is paying for it-- "Funds would be allocated from the Chancellor's Office utilizing state construction bonds." In other words, OPM.

Come to think of it, this sounds a lot like the proponents of the $95 million Measure CL:

So what if we only built about half of what we said we'd build with Measure Y money? OPM.

Repair or replace leaky and faulty roofs. OPM.

Improve student and school safety, including fire alarms and replacing old wiring. OPM.

Install solar panels...other energy-efficiency improvements...environmentally sustainable... OPM.

Remove hazardous materials...lead...asbestos. OPM.

Maybe we all ought to go out and get some OPM of our own.

Campaign piece pushing CUSD Measure CL, prepared by the School District, and handed out at a recent elementary school Parents' Night.